Preventing Marble Countertop Etching

by Jonathan
(Boston, MA)

QUESTION:

Have you ever heard of s-b-s sealer or lifeguard from Aldon chemical? They say that they prevent etching in Marble to a very high degree.

I would like to know if you have had experience with these products or similar and if they work well.

I put a marble tile countertop in and am only now, after the install, finding out about etching and would like to prevent it if it is possible.

ANSWER:

Yes I do know about Aldon, but have not used their products. Their claim and pictures that the SBS Sealer plus Lifeguard will prevent etching is intriguing, but there's a couple caveats.

Aldon's sealer combo is a penetrating sealer that also leaves a layer on the surface and not completely below the surface like most/all other penetrating sealers.

This will change the look of your stone and importantly will change (limit) what can be done for marble cleaning and maintenance.

If your marble is polished then note that you may have some difficulty getting the SBS and Lifeguard to absorb and bond properly. Though Aldon claims their spray on SBS is designed for low porosity surfaces like polished marble.

That's the big issue I see with these two products. They are designed to leave a glossy topical coat on your marble, which is not what most sealers are designed to do and that surface barrier is what is preventing the etching of course, which any topical coating or wax will do.

A permanent topical coat can be detrimental to the integrity of the stone and generally creates new/additional marble maintenance and cleaning issues since you now have to maintain the topical coating rather than the marble itself.

Topical coatings will show wear (scuffs, scratches) more readily than the stone itself would and need constant maintenance. Aldon appears to claim that theirs won't and that it doesn't need stripping to touch up or reapply.


If that is true, then it could be a very good product to use for certain finishes, but I don't know that I'd recommend it for all finishes, especially honed or tumbled unless you want that "wet look." Plus honed marble doesn't show etching that badly anyway.

One more thing is that SBS contains methylene chloride which is a powerful, noxious and toxic solvent. I highly recommend using a respirator if you do use this product and also expect your house to be filled with fumes for 2-3 days.

Also, topical coatings often make the stone look plastic.

And I wouldn't put marble sealed with Aldon in the same category as granite for use in the kitchen.

Even if marble etching can be controlled, granite is still much more durable and a better choice for kitchen countertops.

These types of coatings can be beneficial in certain limited situations like commercial installations where a marble cleaning and maintenance team is constantly caring for the surface.

If you do decide to apply a topical coating, definitely test your complete application procedure on a left-over tile first to see what the sealer will do... how it will look.

My best recommendation is simply to follow the "do's and don'ts" presented on our site, learn how to properly care for and clean marble and you will effectively prevent 90% of etch marks.

No need to complicate matters by applying a permanent topical coating especially when most etch marks on polished marble, travertine or limestone can be easily restored using the ETCH REMOVER / Marble Polishing Paste.

If you do use a coating, please report back about how it goes, how you like the end result and if it works!

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Still thinking about it!
by: Jonathan

Thanks for your input Ryan. I am not sure if I will try the Aldon products yet. The reason I am having trouble deciding is the fact that the layer it puts on the marble, like you said, is very strong chemicals. Even when dry I am not sure how safe it would be on a surface that gets extensive use for food prep and eating. I will let you know if I do try it. Thanks again.

Some information about Aldon
by: Aldon Tech

Aldon does not make "claims" in the way you are thinking. We simply say that all our products do what we describe. The question is will it do what you want? Only the person seeing the results of a particular project is capable of making that decision. That is why we highly recommend submitting a tech request at aldonchem.com, evaluating our suggestions, then proving them right or wrong with samples before doing any kind of project.

The odor issue is simply a question of good ventilation which should be done when using any chemical products in any case.

I hope that clarifys things a bit for you.
Regards,
Don S.
Aldon Tech. Dept.

Info about Aldon
by: Ryan

Fair enough Don. I agree that you probably know exactly what your products will do and how to best use them.

And I'm sure you'd agree that Picasso could paint a picture and sell it for $1 million. I could use the same paint and my picture would get lauged at by any 3rd grader!

My point: I say "claims" because sometimes a product or chemical designed for a particular result yields different results when used by a person unfamiliar with it.

Often people are looking for a "miracle in a bottle" and mistakenly believe that all you have to do is slosh this stuff around and viola... everything is perfect.

Wasn't meant to insult you or your products, just to make the homeowner investigate more.

Thanks for your input!

For Ryan
by: Aldon Tech

Hi Ryan,

No, I was not insulted at all. It is just that it is a common thing for companies to over promise in our industry and lead people to think that miracle products do exist, just as you say.

The idea I like to get across is that Aldon, nor any other company, should be so definitive as to say use "ABC" product and you will get these results. There are too many variables in any project to create that impression, and that leads to customers being unhappy. We do not want that and have been very successful in having customers actually meet their goals. But, only they can review their project on our web site, test samples to validate their diagnosis, etc. So to us it is a simple and logical process for the customer, and we highly encourage it.

The key is the products do what we say they do. The customer needs to test to see if a product will do what they want. If not, we help them with other choices on how to get there.

In regards to one of our products, SBS Sealer. It is used on polished marble. On a porous material it absorbs in. On polished marble it leaves a glossy coating on the surface with a tight bond. It is also used on marble top patio tables with full sun exposure because it works so well. The aerosols allow for a smooth, self leveling surface that does not let acidic liquids contact the stone - therefore no etching and no damage to the sealer. Granite is wonderful, but when folks want a certain marble, this is how they achieve the benefits of granite. For non-floor applications, Lifeguard is not necessary. The sealer is extremely easy to patch.

Regards,
Don


Don at Aldon
by: Ryan

That's good information Don! I'm sure our reader will appreciate the additional details.

Would you mind using our contact us form so I could get your email privately? I have a couple more questions for you.

Thanks,
Ryan

YES you can prevent ETCHING on...
by: Dennis

YES you can prevent Etching on Polished Marble and Polished Granite. There is a product made by KINLOCH USA from Austin Texas that has a etching and acid proof product that is also a safe "GREEN" product. I have seen it used by the Hyatt Hotel on their Polished and Honed White Marble that was full
of etch marks from food, wine, drink spills. Now after repair and using the EAP products to product
the Marble they have a polished and the food, wine, drink spills do not leave any marks even if not cleaned up for 30 hrs. It also works on HONED stone....www.kinlochglobal.com



Yes you can
by: Ryan

Dennis,

Thanks for the post. What you say is mostly true. There are products that can prevent etching. They are not "green" though. Kinloch makes a type of sealer that is green, but the etching treatment is not green.

Kinloch and Aldon make topical etching preventatives. Key word is "topical." Typically you want to avoid a topical coating on stone because it doesn't allow the stone to breath. Not as big an issue with countertops, but cannot be done on floors, or walls.

Also, most topical coatings will change the look of the stone. Most look a bit plastic and many people do not like this. But as you note, the EAP can be manipulated to be shiny or honed, which is a nice feature.

Now, the product technology is improving and Kinloch's products do a good job of staying as invisible as possible... they claim that you really can't see or feel it in side by side comparison.

Also, if the stone needs repair for any reason, you'll have to grind the coating away and re-apply, which may require a larger, more expensive repair job than would have been necessary without the coating.

And this is a professional only application. Which is okay, but you have to find someone to do it for you.

So, the good news is that the potential solutions to thwart etching are getting better. Just don't know that it is a no-brainer yet. Especially since in most cases etching can be easily repaired to like new condition with a good marble polishing paste.

Certainly you could always do a sample and see if you like the look. In general, it is best to do as little to stone as possible.

I do see how this product would make sense for large commercial areas though. Will cut down on maintenance hours. You just don't have the intensity of maintenance demands in your own home.

Thanks again for your informative post!


DON'T DO IT!
by: Lone Star Tile and Grout Cleaning San Antonio

The problem with "any" TOPICAL COATING on Natrual stone is that it creates more problems than it solves! Acid etching is very easy to fix and will not cost the customer an arm and leg....To "fix" a stone that has had a topical coating it all has to be removed! That cost the customer more money and any topical coating is prone to scuff and scare more so than just the natural polished stone. I'm the guy that has to fix the issue's years after the miricle in the blt has been applied...

Kinloch Comments from Kevin
by: Kevin Ormsby

Hi:
Some of you may have seen the Kinloch products on display on marble at Synergy Surfaces booth during Stone Expo. Our EAP etch proofing treatment was displayed on numerous marble and stone samples. EAP deeply penetrates marble and leaves a thin quartz-like surface on the top which resists food acid etching. It is exceptionally scratch resistant and has the tactile feel of stone once it fully cures. The installer can polish or hone the topical layer to the desired look. The same product is very popular for high-end decorative concrete counters and floors.
While this type of protection may not be right for everyone, it certainly will benefit customers who don't want to have their marble constantly re-polished to maintain its beauty. It has been installed in hotels and restaurants where appearance matters. EAP also works on numerous other surfaces to protect them long term from food acid etching, chemical solvents and graffiti.

Kinloch product testimony
by: Bob Chatterton

I'll back up what Kevin says here. As we are the ones that introduced EAp into the countertop market. Surface519 (my company) tested this stuff for a year before we decided to market it. I tested this on concrete/recycled glass slabs/ marble/ granite and most solid surfaces. And for a change it turned out to be a product that actually lived up to expectations. Once we were convinced it had potential we send it to the concrete contertop institute as Jeff Girard there has a very stringent and controlled testing program. He ranks the stain/etch resistance on a scale up to 100% and the EAP ranked at 97%. Also I can tell you that the ability to finish/ sand/ polish this material is a huge step to achieving the look of natural stone.

Acid Resistant Treatment for Marble
by:

Has anyone used or know about this AntiAcid treatment from Australia? www.antiacid.com.au

Etching solution
by: Surface519

If you read the web page it says it may prevent etching for 10-15 minutes. This is of little help in the real world.

AntiAcid from Australia
by: David - General Manager AntiAcid.

I came accross your forum and wanted to discuss the AntAcid treatment for calcareous stone produced in Australia.

This treatment is not a cure for etching to calcareous stone benchtops but a preventative treatment. If you leave any food type acid on a marble bench top for long enough it will eventually breakdown most topical type sealers.

The AntiAcid treatment is an impregnating treatment that delays the reaction of these food type acids for up to 40+ minutes (based upon white vinegar tests - highly acidic) and thereafter minimizes the effect of the etch mark.

We have had great success with the product in Australia with both fabricators and restoration companies using the product regulary. The product is also continually specified by Architects and designers as the results are impressive.

We are not saying that AntiAcid will stop etching. We are saying that it will assist in delaying etching for sufficient time that the acid has either been wiped up or has evaporated. In Australia the main etching culprit is tap water as it contains small quantities of acid. The Antiacid treatment has actually stopped etching completely from acids contained in potable tap water.

We have trialled the product in a fabricators factory for over 18 months and the fabricator since starting the trials was so releived that he now does not receive phonecall from his clients 2 days after installting a Marble bench top. Previously prior to the trials, every marble benctop he installed, he would dread the phone call 2 days latter saying "my bench top has marked".

The whole intention of the product is to offer an impregnating treatment that does not change the look or feel of the surface but offers protection to enable the client sufficient time to wipe up spill from acidic products.

Clearstone
by: clearstone

There is a coating from Australia known as Clearstone which protects against acid etching, this has been in use for more than ten years.

Coating stone tops is the only way to prevent acid etching and staining, and Clearstone has proven this many times over, some of the many benefits of this coating with Clearstone is the low maintenance, all that is needed to clean any spills of the surface is a damp cloth and this can be carried out the next day, we have had coffee stains on a top for a week and just wiped clean.

Scuffing and scratches can occur after time, however this can be very easily repaired, this has taken years to develop and is now starting to make it way round the world.

==== ADMIN COMMENT: Thank you for contributing and sharing your thoughts!

Yes, such topical coatings are getting better, however, they still have the same problems that they have always had...

1. Require a "certified technician" to apply and to repair = expensive.

2. Once applied it's the coating that must be maintained (by certified technician) and not the stone (which is often a simple/cheap DIY project).

3. No matter how great the coating it still looks a little artificial... like something is on the stone.

4. Coating can discolor or yellow, chip, crack, scuff or delaminate.

Also, the coating won't necessarily prevent "absolutely" any etching. Etching could still occur. It's just that repair of the coating and stone is supposed to be covered under warranty.

So, all considered the BEST idea is to simply install the most suitable surface for the intended use or location.

Marble is not a good choice for kitchen countertops and applying Clearstone or any other coating doesn't make it a good choice.

If you have a super-high use area like in a hotel with the budget to constantly maintain the surface it could make sense.

Or if you buy a house with marble kitchen countertops already installed, then maybe you consider a coating.

But frankly, in my opinion (and most stone pros) it is still less hassle and far cheaper in such cases to simply repair the etching as it occurs with a DIY Etch Remover & Marble Polishing product.

Easy-to-apply, effective, inexpensive and you avoid all the problems above that coatings typically have.

I'm definitely waiting for the day when these coatings are good enough to prevent etching without the other problems. We'd definitely endorse it... but so far the coatings only offer a "different" solution... but not a "better" solution.






Acid etching and other problems solved
by: Clearstone

Admin. Clearstone is a coating that is around 2mm thick on the surface of the stone, it's water clear and is finished to a matt through to a high gloss finish, hard to detect that any thing is on the surface at all.

It has outstanding results against a number of chemicals.

Example you can spray black enamel paint on it wait a week and wipe it clean with Acetone with no effect to the surface.

Yes, it needs a trained applicator to apply it, as Ryan said there is no " Miracle in a bottle".

You can deep scratch it with a screwdriver, chip it, and scuff it and all of this can be quickly and cheaply fixed without having to remove it or replace it.

Recently in Melbourne Australia a kitchen top that had been coated 6 years ago had repairs to some chips and then re sanded to its original high gloss finish, the clients were more than just a little pleased.

It won't yellow, crack, or delaminate and you can now go to your local stone retailer and choose the Marble, Limestone, Onyx, Travertine top with confidence by just having Clearstone applied.

Existing tops can be restored, no matter what the condition, and this restoration is being performed on a regular basis in Australia, NZ and USA.

If you would like a sample of this Admin, I am only to happy to send you one so you can see and test it for yourself.

==== Admin comment: Thanks for your reply and information. We will certainly continue to investigate and evaluate your product and similar products for possible recommendation to our visitors and clients.

Anti-etch Products: Not ready for prime time
by: Kathleen

We have Quartzite Bianca countertops (natural stone, not to be confused with Caeserstone, or "quartz" countertops, etc.).

Prior to installation, we had our fabricator test various things (ketchup, lime juice, oil) for staining/etching since I read about homeowners with Quartzite Bianca having these problems.

Fortunately our stone did not stain or etch which was good news. The bad news is, WATER etches it.

A local stone guy said the only thing that etches is stone with calcite (marble, limestone, etc.) which reacts to acids, and...since quartzite does not contain calcite it should not etch.

He believed it is the resin used at the quarry that is reacting to acids which is causing stone inherently non-etchable, to etch.

This explains why homeowners with this same material report "etching" and "it's bulletproof--no etching." They're getting their stone from different quarries and/or, the quarry is using a different resin.

As an aside, I got the etching out with a solution of baking soda and water.

I too am hesitant to consider a topical coating for the reasons already stated - exchanging maintaining the stone (easy/affordable/homeowner can do) for maintaining the coating ($$$).

Thanks for the discussion.. sounds like some kinks have to be worked out yet.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for your input Kathleen! Need to clear up a couple points though...

Yes, sometimes a resin can etch, but most do not and plain water does NOT etch stone... even marble. Acidic well water can sometimes etch, but then so would all those other things you tested.

Etching is not selective. If a material contains calcite than every acidic substance will etch it.

This is not a resin issue. Also, resins are not applied to prevent etching. They are applied to fill voids and increase strength of the stone.

The reason some report quartzite to be bulletproof and others that it etches is because some quartzite does not contain calcite and is very tough and some does, in fact, contain calcite and will etch. Plain as that.

Remember... we're talking about "natural" stone... meaning there is wide variation of composition and performance even among supposedly the same type of stone.

The spot you thought was etching from water was most likely due to mineral deposits or something else on the surface or possibly a light stain. It was definitely not etching or otherwise the lemon juice would have etched as well.

You can't restore etching with baking soda, but you can remove stains, etc.

Quartzite (natural stone) etching
by: Anonymous

Interesting.. this is the first I've heard quartzite may contain calcite. An interaction between the resin and acids seemed to explain why some quartzite etches and others do not.. but it's interesting to hear some quartzite contain calcite.

I guess one way to test the resin theory is to find a quartzite that etches, then see if it etches on the other side of the slab (away from the resin).

I've been careful with (e.g. lime juice, etc.) and it's hard to say if our fabricator kept the lime juice on it overnight prior to installation.. so, it could be our stone etches (stone etching versus surface dulling which is what we appear to have) from acids.

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

Resins will sometimes etch and yes, you could test resin vs. stone etching as you describe.

If a stone etches, it will occur immediately upon contact. The longer the contact the more severe, but you wouldn't have to leave it on overnight to get a result.

I'm not sure what you mean by "etching vs. surface dulling". These are one and the same. Etching corrodes the surface, destroying the polished layer leaving a dull spot or area.

The quartzite surface will not just go dull without something acting on it. It could look dull from something on the surface, but once removed it would be shiny again.

One other potential issue not discussed yet is etching of sealer residue on the surface.

There should not be sealer residue on the surface, but this can sometimes happen if a sealer was improperly applied (i.e. allowed to dry on the surface) or if applied to a stone that didn't need it and couldn't absorb it.

marble not etching from water..
by: Anonymous

"Plain water does not etch.. not even marble." What would cause water glass ring etching on marble surfaces that I've seen a lot of (even from soft water)? Thanks

=== Countertop Specialty comment:

First, you'd have to diagnose (by testing) that the glass-ring etch mark is indeed from water. A ring-mark left by a "water" glass does not mean that water caused the etching.

Most (as in nearly all) glass-ring etch marks are not from water. They are from drinks that are acidic.

However, some city water supplies are acidic enough from treatment to etch marble, but really pretty rare.

And water-softeners not set correctly can make the water acidic as well. You can adjust a water-softener in such cases.

Quartzite (natural stone) etching
by: Kathleen

If water is left on the countertop surface, it dulls in those areas. I don't call it etching because baking soda removes, and based on your earlier comment, that means the stone was not etched. I take the fact baking soda removes these spots to mean it is a surface issue.

Water glasses left to sit, containing plain water (low mineral content, minimal ammonia/chlorine treatment in our area), leaves rings.

Again, these come out with baking soda so it's possible water is reacting to the sealer instead of being a resin issue. Doesn't look like a stain-- it's dull as compared to being dark.

The other possibility you raised is excess sealer. Our fabricator put 511 on the counters, then a few months later I read about silicone sealers attracting oil stains on white stone (granite and quartzite) and decided to try another sealer.

The manufacturer of the new sealer told me to use soap and water to remove the old sealer, rinsing well, but I've since read you use sealer to remove sealer...wiping immediately.

I could give this a try to see if that's the issue. Good thought about excess sealer!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Very curious situation indeed. However, if you are able to "remove" the dull spots left on the countertop after a water spill, then nothing has "reacted" with either the stone, a resin or sealer residue.

A reaction (like etching) physically changes either the stone, the resin or sealer residue. There is nothing "on" the surface. Thus, there is nothing to remove.

In the case of stone etching.... repolishing is needed.

For etched resin... either applying more resin (on the etched area) or removing all resin from the entire surface is require.

Same deal for the sealer residue. To eliminate an etch mark in sealer residue, you must strip off the sealer from the entire surface. So, I don't think the water is "reacting" with any sealer residue.

(FYI... this cannot be done with soap and water and typically cannot be done with more sealer if the residue has cured. You need to use a solvent like acetone or methylene chloride)

If a dull spot appears after the water has evaporated, and then baking soda removes the dull spot, and the spot is then shiny again... well that confirms that something from the water was "on" the surface making it look dull.

Now, your water may have a low mineral content, but it still has some minerals or who knows what else. But something (most likely minerals) in the water is being left behind after it evaporates.

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